Janko Roettgers, reporting for Protocol:

Roku is alleging that Google is using the YouTube TV negotiations
to push it to enforce hardware requirements for future Roku
products that could make Roku devices more expensive. This
allegation bears some extra weight because of Google’s own
Chromecast TV streaming device, which is currently selling for $20
more than the cheapest Roku streamer. […]

Roku also alleges that Google aims to dictate how the streaming
device maker treats voice search results. According to those
allegations, Google wants to force Roku to only show YouTube
results when someone launches a voice search from within the
YouTube app. If, for instance, someone browses YouTube and then
decides to listen to music, a voice query like “Play ‘Uptown
Funk’” would open the song on YouTube, even if the consumer had
set Pandora as their default music app.

Roku has removed the YouTube TV app from their store, but it still works for users who already have it installed.

Google, in its response on the official YouTube blog, doesn’t deny the requirements for the new AV1 codec, but flatly denies the rest of Roku’s allegations:

Our agreements with partners have technical requirements to ensure
a high quality experience on YouTube. Roku requested exceptions
that would break the YouTube experience and limit our ability to
update YouTube in order to fix issues or add new features. For
example, by not supporting open-source video codecs, you wouldn’t
be able to watch YouTube in 4K HDR or 8K even if you bought a Roku
device that supports that resolution.

We can’t give Roku special treatment at the expense of users. To
be clear, we have never, as they have alleged, made any requests
to access user data or interfere with search results. This claim
is baseless and false.

This is remarkably contentious. I don’t see any way to square this up without concluding that one of the companies is flat-out lying.


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